It really is a sad day in the Neighbourhood. Mister Rogers passed away on Thursday at the age of 74. For those of my generation this is a very sad event. Though I didn’t watch Mr. Rogers much when I was a kid, since I watched his Canadian counterpart Mr. Dressup, I still feel that the world is now missing one of it’s genuinely nice guys. I recently read a book called “Letters to Mr. Rogers” where he printed letters written to him by children, parents and fans along with his replies. Through these letter you could tell that he was a honest caring human being. He will truly be missed.
Because of this event I was thinking about the ways that children programming affects children, especially with the topic of death. Mr. Dressup (who I mentioned before) was my TV friend when I was smaller. He passed away a couple of days after the September 11th tragedy which was a major blow to Canadian childrens entertainment. Mr. Dressup had retired several years before his death but for adults my age he was always a friend and a TV father to a lot of us.
The first children show that I remember touching on the subject of death was Sesame Street. Will Lee, the actor who played Mr. Hooper, passed away in 1982. Instead of writing the character out of the show the producers incorporated his death into it. The culminating scene of the episode had the Sesame Street adults explaining to Big Bird why Mr. Hooper wouldn’t be coming back. I believe I saw the episode and it was very touching. I know I was shocked when I heard about Mr. Hoopers death. At 6 years old I hadn’t had any experiences with death before this one.
I’m sure we will all miss Mr. Rogers and anyone else who touched our childhood and helped us learn and grow.